Australia is home to the oldest living culture in the world – the Australian Aboriginal People. The familial heritage of these people can be traced back to groups that lived in Australian in the pre-colonisation era. The Australian Aboriginal Peoples and the Torres Strait Islander Peoples together constitute the Indigenous Population of Australia. The Aboriginals are believed to have lived on the Earth for over 50,000 years. Today, there are 250 different groups scattered throughout Australia.
This article aims to inform readers about the History, Facts and Culture of Australia’s Aboriginal People.
Australia’s Aboriginal People: History
The ancestors of today’s Aboriginal People of Australia migrated from South East Asia in times of the Pleistocene epoch (nearly 45,000-50,000 years ago) and started inhabiting large parts of the Australian continental shelf. They were among the earliest people to have successfully completed sea voyages. They were the oldest population living outside Africa.
In 1788, when British settlers started colonizing Australia, the aboriginals were already living there in small family groups with distinct territorial boundaries. Soon, colonization had a devastating effect on the aboriginal communities, with people being subject to mass killings, violent conflicts, epidemics, and the British settlers seizing aboriginal lands. Up to 20,000 indigenous people died during colonization.
In the period between 1910 and 1970, government policies led to the forcible removal of 10-33% of Aboriginal Australian children from their homes. These children were put in adoptive families and prohibited from speaking their native languages. Much later, in 2008, a national apology was issued for the condemnable action. Ever since, Australia has made considerable efforts to reduce social disparities towards Aboriginal Australians.
The struggle for the aboriginals continues till date, to retain their ancient culture and to get recognition from the Australian government.
Culture of Australia’s Aboriginal People
Aboriginal culture dates back to over 50,000 years and existed way before the Pyramids or Stonehenge. Their culture follows a holistic approach, characterised by its connection to family, community and country. The idea of ‘being on country’ or land is what defines aboriginal people.
The aboriginals believe their ancestral spirits appeared from the earth and the sky. These spirits are the creation forces through which life is created. In aboriginal culture there is a strong connect between people, land and place. The home is the epicentre of family and religious life.
Some Facts About Australia’s Aboriginal People
- Australian Aboriginals inhabit the Australian mainland and many of its islands like Tasmania, Fraser Island, Hinchinbrook Island, the Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt.
- Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders account for about 3.3% of the total Australian population, i.e. approximately 800,000 out of 25 million people.
- Designed in the 1970s, the Aboriginal flag represent various aspects of aboriginal life. The black stands for aboriginal people, the yellow symbolises the sun and the red represents the earth.
- The ‘Dreamtime’ is a general time used to refer the time when the earth was formed and cycles of life started.
Another interesting façade of aboriginal culture is their unique art, which is proudly propagated by the Indigenous artists of Australia. Organisations like Welcome To Country have been providing a wonderful platform for aboriginal businesses to promote their distinctive artefacts, commercial products, and overall experiences. If you wish to give a slice of aboriginal culture a place in your home, you could check out their website and buy Aboriginal goods at Welcome To Country.